Military of France

From Academic Kids




The French armed forces are divided into four branches:

Missing image
Every year on Bastille Day, a large military parade is staged before the President of the Republic (here, soldiers preparing themselves).

They also include the following services:

The titular head of the French armed forces is the President of the Republic, in his role as Chef des Armées and is Commander-in-Chief of French Forces.


The total number of military personnel is approximately 300,000. However, 100,000 of these are in the Gendarmerie, and thus a vast majority of these 100,000 are used in everyday law enforcement operation inside France and are not fit for external operations.

Previously, France relied a great deal on conscription to provide manpower to its armies, with only a minority of career soldiers. Following from the Algerian War of Independence, the use of non-volunteer draftees in foreign operations was ended. In 1996, President Jacques Chirac's government announced the end of conscription; in 2001, conscription was ended. However, young people must still register for possible conscription should the events call for it, with the change that now females must register as well.

International stance

French military doctrine is based on the concepts of national independence, nuclear deterrence (see Force de frappe), and military suffiency. France is a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), and has worked actively with Allies to adapt NATO--internally and externally--to the post-Cold War environment. In December 1995, France announced that it would increase its participation in NATO's military wing, including the Military Committee (the French withdrew from NATO's military bodies in 1966 while remaining full participants in the alliance's political councils). France remains a firm supporter of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and other efforts at cooperation. Paris hosted the May 1997 NATO-Russia Summit for the signing of the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security.

Outside of NATO, France has actively and heavily participated in both coalition and unilateral peacekeeping efforts in Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans, often taking the lead in these operations. France has undertaken a major restructuring to develop a professional military which will be smaller, more rapidly deployable and better tailored for operations outside of mainland France. Key elements of the restructuring include reducing personnel, bases, and headquarters and rationalizing equipment and the armament industry. French active-duty military at the beginning numbers approximately 270,000 (World Almanac 2004), of which nearly 35,000 were assigned outside of metropolitan France.

Since the end of the Cold War, France has placed a high priority on arms control and non-proliferation. It acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1992 and supported its indefinite extension in 1995. After conducting a controversial final series of six nuclear tests on Mururoa in the South Pacific, the French signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996. France has implemented a moratorium on the production, export, and use of anti-personnel landmines and supports negotiations leading toward a universal ban. The French are key players in the adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe to the new strategic environment.

France is an active participant in the major supplier regimes designed to restrict transfer of technologies that could lead to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction: the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Australia Group (for chemical and biological weapons), and the Missile Technology Control Regime. France has signed and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention.

See also: France and weapons of mass destruction

Recent operations

France provides, along with the United States and other countries, troops for the force stationed in Haiti, sanctioned by the United Nations, following the 2004 Haiti rebellion.

France has sent troops, especially special forces, in US-occupied Afghanistan so as to help the United States fight the remains of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.


See also


External links

fr:Armée française

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